Welcome To Kaizen Wellness: The Principle That Created It All
Kaizen is a Japanese word that literally translates to “change for the better.” The first time I saw the word was back in 2006 on the numberplate of my new girlfriend’s father’s (now father in law’s) pitch black Jaguar XKR two seater. I had no idea what it meant but looking at the car I knew it was probably awesome.
It’s taken me ten years to incorporate the daily practice into my life, but as principle it’s really straight forward.
Start where you are and do better with what you have today. Then just keep doing that. Even if you just improve 1 percent on what you did yesterday or if you just try to suck 1 percent less than you did yesterday.
Ten years later this is what living kaizen has taught me.
In this world of instant gratification it’s so easy to overestimate the importance of one defining moment and underestimate the value of making better decisions on a daily basis.
That’s because in the short term there is no real difference between making a choice that is 1 percent better or 1 percent worse. If I choose to eat junk food today instead of a nutritious meal I won’t suddenly get fat or feel unhealthy. And if I choose to go to the gym today instead of staying home and watching television I won’t suddenly get in shape and feel amazing.
What does it matter what I do in this moment? It’s nothing. Fleeting. Quick. I can always be better tomorrow.
But as time goes on, these choices add up. They become not just what we do day to day –
But Who We Are
And that’s when you find a very big gap between two people. The gap between someone who seems to never struggle with their weight and someone who is obese or underweight. Or the gap between someone who hates exercise and someone who’s active daily.
The only difference between these people are:
- Either they choose to make slightly better decisions today.
- Or the choose to make slightly worse decisions today.
You are who you are and where you are right now as the result of a series of daily choices and every habit that you have – good or bad – is the result of many small decisions over time.
Somehow most of us conveniently forget this when we want to make a big positive change.
We forget that our habits are not who we are, they’re simply choices we made and actions we took and if we forget the past then we can make good choices today.
Dream Big But Execute As Small
As You Feel Totally Confident You Can Handle
Big goals are good to have because they provide direction, but they can also trick you into taking on more than you can handle.
And if you start the bar at perfect, you make it impossible for yourself to start. That’s when most people say they just lack motivation. Motivation is never not the problem. The problem is you’ve set the bar so high that you can’t get started.
Once you have the dream or goal or vision in place you have to –
LOWER The Bar
So that YOU can get started.
If you want to start exercising regularly you don’t start with a custom training plan. You start right now with ten bodyweight squats and you keep doing that every day until ten is too easy and then you add more.
Or if you’re already exercising three times a week you start going 4 times.
And if you want to eat healthier when you’re living off take-aways you start by eating one vegetable a day.
You essentially have to make your first action step so small that you don’t NEED any motivation to do it – you can simply do it.
That’s how you change your habits, by making it easy on yourself not harder than it needs to be.
Tiny changes day in and day out lead to extraordinary results over time. Excellence is always the result of a life spent changing for the better. Not one day’s effort.
Don’t Fear Failing But Never Fail Twice
Guess what, you’re going to fail. You’re going to fail so many times. And the further you are away from your goal the more failures you’re going to have to go through to reach your goal.
You’re just not good enough to get it right the first time you do something new unless you’re very lucky. And even those exceptions that are off to a great start will fail somewhere along the line. It’s just the way we learn.
The problem with our access to unlimited information on the internet today is that we all have a pretty good idea of how something should be done…
… But all the information and knowledge in the world does not even come close to a single second of practice.
So then when we try to do the new thing and we don’t do it as well as we think we should, we get really frustrated with ourselves. No one likes feeling frustrated and so we have two choices to deal with that frustration.
Do The Work & Practice
So that we can get better OR give up.
If you want to succeed at living well you need to stop giving up when you feel frustrated.
You’ll fail, you’ll make mistakes, you feel frustrated and your job (if you want to succeed) is to push through that frustration and grow from it.
If you start a new workout program eventually you’ll miss a workout. That’s okay, just don’t miss the next one.
If you’re following a diet, eventually you’ll eat something that’s not on the diet. That’s okay, make sure that the next meal you eat is back on track.
To Sum Up
- Take your journey day by day.
- Do a little more today of what makes you stronger.
- Do a little less today of what weakens you.
- Keep the things you do small so that they leave you wanting more.
What principles do you use to guide your life? Or have inspired you to take better care of yourself? Let me know in the comments below.